Holiday Traditions


Growing up in the Smith house Christmas was THE most magical time of the year for me.  (For the record my birthday or as I like to call “It’s all about Mairlyn Day” is the other most magical day)

Our house was so festooned over the holidays with lights, decorations, and ornaments, most of my friends thought that my mom was having some kind of Christmas clearance sale in our living room.

Aside from a fresh tree, Christmas smells permeated the air – shortbread, sugar cookies, gingersnaps, Christmas cake, and on the BIG DAY a thirty pound turkey was stuffed and wedged into a roasting pan and then miraculously jammed into the oven.

Ginger Chocolate Shortbread, Truffles, and Gingersnaps - our family foods at Christmas

Ginger Chocolate Shortbread, Truffles, and Gingersnaps – our family foods at Christmas

Throughout the season my parents would have neighbours over for drinks.  Back then they would show up in their finery. Mrs. Martynick always came over with sparkles in her hair.

I moved to Toronto in the mid 1980’s but it was a gimme that I would make the trek back to Vancouver every year.

I eventually married, had a baby boy but then a couple of years later, sadly, my husband and I separated. What to do about Christmas? I decided that my son should enjoy both my family and my husband’s family traditions so he and I agreed that one year I would fly to Vancouver for the holidays and the next year we would stay home and our son would spend the holidays with his dad and his family.

Christmas in Vancouver 2008

Christmas in Vancouver 2008

The first year I stayed home was tough. No Christmas Eve Party at my brother and sister-in-laws, no family caroling, no humungous turkey, no annual lying on the couch in a heap after dinner.

So I came up with Smith Christmas which we celebrated in the middle of December. My parents would fly into town and we would do it up big; we hung stockings, (FYI: if you write a letter to Santa he makes special arrangements to show up at your house early), I made shortbread, sugar cookies, and all the other foods that went with my family’s traditional Christmas. We even had a big turkey. Not a thirty pounder, but a big one because leftovers are part of my family’s’ traditions.

So why cook a turkey in the middle of December? Why have two Christmases? Because traditions are the backbone of  families and our personal heritages. When we neglect them we start to lose who we are as a culture.

This year it’s a Vancouver Christmas. (Note: to any burglars – we have two people staying in our house dog sitting)

I’m cooking Christmas dinner for twelve.

We are going to be having a traditional Smith dinner with a huge turkey.  My eighty-seven year old mom is going to make the dressing because when I make it my sister says, “It’s not Mom’s”. I’m cooking a Sweet Potato casserole (a new recipe for the family, hope there isn’t a revolt) mashed potatoes with butter and cream are on the menu along with frozen peas and corn because that’s what we’ve eaten forever, Brussels sprouts (another new version….I am so living on the razor’s edge) a Beet dish which I think will go over well (I might actually be insane this year – three new dishes????), and its all being served on my Mom’s Poinsettia china dinner set.

Dessert? We’re English, Irish, and Scots – three guesses what we are having and the first two don’t count.  

Of course, it’s a Christmas pudding, my mom and I have made my Great Grandmother’s recipe for years, but this year time ran out so I’m using the next best thing  – the fabulous King George Christmas Pudding from Puddings Matter.   They really know how to make a fabulous Christmas Pudding.

Fabulous Canadian made Christmas Pudding from Puddings Matter

Fabulous Canadian made Christmas Pudding from Puddings Matter


Have a wonderful holiday and please don’t give up on your family’s traditions, it the stuff we’re all made of.

 Wishing you all a season of laughter and love and may 2014 be a year of healthy living.


Posted in Christmas
8 comments on “Holiday Traditions
  1. Byrl Staples says:

    Merry Christmas to you & your family. I love Christmas traditions. Our family is small but big on traditions as well. Have a healthy & happy New Year.

  2. Pauline Marshall says:

    Yours is the most important blog I enjoy reading; you always bring a smile to my face. Our family is a mix of Irish, Scot, French and Portugese…I love it! Whether we all come together on Christmas day or not, we make the most of our traditions and celebrate the “day” when we can – and like you, could be twice. Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm, your love of life and food with us. Merry Christmas and all the best in 2014 to you and yours.

  3. Mairlyn says:

    Bless your heart!
    Peace, love and fibre,

  4. Mairlyn says:

    Thanks so much!
    Peace, love and fibre,

  5. Kathleen Smith Fairweather says:

    I am the “sister” who claims the stuffing isn’t “mom’s”!! My sister has described the “Smith Christmas” to a tee! Mom and Dad made the holidays so special and I have fond memories of decorating sugar cookies with my “Big Sister”. Our entire family loves Christmas and I am so excited that Mairlyn is cooking the traditional dinner! Love your “Little Sister” Kathleen xo

  6. Rose (Kathleen's friend) says:

    This blog is a must read during Christmas! It really reflects how much we as humans want to love share and maintain traditions. Thanks for sharing Mairlyn!

  7. Mairlyn says:

    Thanks for the lovely comment, Rose!
    Peace, love and fibre,

  8. Mairlyn says:

    Hey Kathleen,
    Can’t wait for our Christmas this year!
    Peace, love and fibre,

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